The miscreants behind the sudden eruptions of gunfire across the city are nowhere to be found after the most recent spate of violence.
They went into hiding and managed to elude the authorities in each of their sporadic, overnight search operations. A heavy contingent of police and Special Protection Group (SPG) commandos raided targeted parts of the city, focusing particularly on Orangi Town and Old Sabzi Mandi area. Similar operations are likely to be conducted on Friday and Saturday night.
The search continued from Thursday to Friday night across parts of district west and east. District West SSP Asif Ejaz Sheikh and his force swept Orangi’s Bukhari Colony and Gulfamabad while Gulshan-e-Iqbal division SP Waqar Mallan and the East police dealt with Old Sabzi Mandi, PIB Colony, Essa Nagri, Madina Colony and parts of Shah Faisal Colony. Nearly 1,000 policemen, including 250 SPG commandos, searched Orangi.
Police said that the raids were very specific as they had target houses listed and had informers helping them.
They began at 4 am but despite a two-hour long search and the rounding up of 50 suspects being apprehended, no concrete arrests were made. The 50 people taken into custody were found to be innocent and were released.
SSP Sheikh told The Express Tribune that they meant to arrest nearly two dozen suspects hiding in about six houses in Bukhari Colony and Gulfamabad.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) dominates Bukhari Colony while the Awami National Party’s (ANP) stronghold is in Gulfamabad. “We didn’t search all of Orangi, there are just 20 to 25 boys who have ruined Orangi’s peace,” he explained. “If I can catch even five of them, peace will be restored in Orangi.”
He said that the suspects are basically criminals using the names of the MQM and ANP. They often use empty houses for a short time during attacks and move on. “MQM and ANP supporters want to live side-by-side but these people won’t let them,” he said. “We checked both parties’ areas just to make sure no one has any objections.”
Full of authoritative confidence, the SPP claimed that Thursday’s operation was only a warning and that a grand operation would follow. “We do not want to invade the privacy of people’s homes,” he said. “However, if this (violence) continues, we will enter each house looking for them.”
The policemen have also been given the authority to take action against suspects. “We don’t need orders from our superiors,” he said. “It is our responsibility to take action as soon as we see something wrong happening.”
Meanwhile, over 500 police officials, including about 200 SPG commandos, searched houses and apartments near Hassan Square, Essa Nagri, PIB Colony and Shah Faisal Colony after reports of firing from houses and apartments.
The diplomatic SP Mallan neither denied nor confirmed reports of any arrests made in his searches but promised good news in the next few days. He told The Express Tribune that he could not share the details with the media but confirmed that similar operations would continue.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2011.